New approach needed to meet aggressive quotas
TME was engaged by its longstanding client, an international non-profit organization with a member-base of 15,000, has provided benefits and services to senior-level financial executives worldwide since 1931, to recommend a new approach to its member acquisition email campaigns that would help meet its aggressive 2016 member acquisition goals.
The non-profit’s prospect database was comprised of almost 18,000 records, many of them procured over the last decade. While the database size was robust, there was very little insight into who those contacts were and are. All that was known is that, according to the data supplied (when it was supplied), the contacts would qualify for membership. However, after ten years, was the data still valid?
Furthermore, were all prospects still engaged? What was the likelihood that they were ready to convert from prospect to member? This database of more than 17,000 had been receiving regular deployments with prospect messaging and calls-to-action, yet few were converting and it was unclear why. It could have been a data issue or it could have been improper messaging and weak incentives. Or both.
It was impossible to make inferences because the size of data was far too large to interpret. And yet, the non-profit was very hesitant to take any steps that might reduce the number prospect records. A lot of comfort was derived in database quantity, so quality had become secondary. As long as campaigns were deploying to great numbers, the non-profit felt secure that its email campaign strategy would succeed.
Reframing organizational thinking
TME set out to change its client’s mindset to embrace a “quality over quantity” approach; first thoroughly cleaning the prospect database, then targeting only engaged prospects.
TME quickly determined that the amount of “noise” in the pre-existing prospect database of roughly 18,000 was merely a distraction. Member acquisition efforts could not be targeted or refined with so little understanding of who made up the database. To quickly scrub the database, TME processed the list for real-time email verification and, in 30 minutes, determined that 61% of the records were invalid.
Once invalid and duplicate records were removed, roughly 7,000 contacts remained. These records would be the starting point for our member acquisition pilot. The smaller database represented significant cost savings because the email service provider used charges per email address. Additionally, TME knew it would derive greater intelligence from campaign results because starting data was cleaner.
Data transparency enables targeting of most engaged prospects
TME’s email strategy required that its client approve a valuable incentive to drive conversions then combined this offer with a compelling event—the non-profit’s anniversary—an ideal choice because it underscored the organization’s longevity and value. Discounted membership and attendance at an annual event were approved for use in the campaign and were central to its calls-to-action.
To ease conversion, TME determined that its client’s traditional online membership application was simply too long and bulky. Knowing that the audience is comprised of extremely busy individuals, the formal application would certainly have provided a barrier to conversion. Instead, TME created an abridged “Quick App” to collect only critical data needed for hand-off to the Membership Team.
Finally, a drip campaign approach was used, in combination with A/B testing, to determine the best combination of message and design, sent to only those who remained engaged throughout the campaign’s lifecycle. Conversions were removed prior to each deployment and emails were sent only to those who had opened (which includes clicks) the previous email deployment—the most engaged.
Cleaner data speeds conversion rates, value realized in just 3 weeks
The non-profit’s dramatically improved database integrity and targeted outreach to highly-engaged prospects succeeded in quickly yielding many conversions—9 new members in just 3 weeks.
By prioritizing quality of data, email strategy, and conversion mechanisms over quantity of contacts and emails deployed, TME was able to assist its client in acquiring 9 new members in just the first 3 weeks of its pilot member acquisition program. More importantly, the success of TME’s recommendations helped to change organizational “big picture” thinking vis-à-vis data management and email strategy.